Hi everyone! My name is Elena Yui Zafrul. My mother is Japanese and my father is Malay. I was born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
I’m 18 years old and currently studying in Iowa. I can speak Malay, Japanese and English.
My parents separated when I was young, so I was basically raised by my mom in a Japanese-like household. I’d speak Japanese with my mom, but when I’m with my sister, we’d communicate in Malay.
My childhood was pretty rough. Since Malaysia was once invaded by the Japanese, the kids at my school would be mean to me. They would call me names and tell me to go back to Japan.
I once told my principal about it and all she said was, “Did you lose a hand? Are you bleeding? No, then I think there’s nothing wrong here.” I guess she thought that it was just kids being playful and whatnot. She wasn’t biracial, so I guess she didn’t know the things that I had to go through.
When I was 13, I moved to a school in the city, nowhere near my previous school. I made new friends and everyone there never picked on me for being half Japanese. They never called me names or made me feel like an outcast. In fact, my friends find me unique for being half Japanese — it’s rare in Malaysia to find someone who’s half Japanese. Some of the friends I made are still my best friends even after five years. They’ve helped me embrace my Japanese side without having to worry about whether I’d fit in well or not.
My mom is of course the reason that I made it this far. She would always fight for me when I was denied my rights. I know it was hard for her to raise my sister and me in a place foreign to her, but I’m proud to say that she is the best mom in the universe!
Although my childhood was rough for being half Japanese, I never blamed her. I love her so much and I’m thankful to God for making this my destiny.
If I was given the chance to change who I am, I would still choose to be half Japanese and half Malay, just as I am now. Although I have gone through a lot as a biracial child, having my rights taken away from me for not being ‘fully’ Malay, I am happy with who I am, I am proud to call myself a Hapa.